The Foreign Ministry looked on with a mixture of bemusement and bewilderment at
the appointment Monday of Yuval Steinitz as international affairs minister (also
in charge of strategic affairs and intelligence).
“We don’t like that
they seem to be taking away our authority,” one senior ministry official said.
He joked, however, that even as the government established the International
Affairs Ministry, it was closing the Ministry of Public Diplomacy.
Yuli Edelstein was appointed to head that ministry four years ago, the same
types of complaints were voiced then that are now raised regarding Steinitz:
that it was a redundant ministry that would take authority away from the Foreign
Steinitz will take over the responsibilities carried out in the
previous government by Moshe Ya’alon (Strategic Affairs Ministry) and Dan
Meridor (Intelligence Affairs Ministry). He will also be in charge of the
biannual US-Israel strategic dialogue, as well as coordinate efforts against
Iran’s nuclear program and represent Israel in various international forums –
also jobs carried out by Ya’alon and Meridor in the previous
While former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon headed up
the strategic dialogue in the previous government, before that it was a position
often held by those outside the ministry. For instance, Shaul Mofaz had this
role as transportation minister during the Olmert government and Tzachi Hanegbi
had it as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office during the Sharon years.